This year, I thought instead of my usual year-end recap and honoring ritual of simply writing about my experiences, I’d share it all with you in the form of what music I discovered in 2014—what moved me, what helped me, what uplifted me, and what kept me going and/or focused on my Core, my Foundation. These are not necessarily music that came out in 2014, but music that came to me in 2014, and therefore reflect images and glimpses of Who I Was and Where I Walked this year.
Music is such an important tool for moving and processing energy, both by allowing it to flow through and be felt throughout your entire being as you listen to it, and by creating music yourself, channeling and expressing the energy inside of you, giving the energy within you a place to be blessed, healed and winged.
I began teaching myself acoustic guitar in early 2014, and have found it very healing. I don’t have any of my own songs to share with you yet, but perhaps by this time next year I shall!
The Music That Touched My Soul in 2014
Chapter of the Forest
From its beckoning invocation of Jagadeesha—basically praying, “Come, Everything—sit and enjoy this offering!”—to its parting encouragement of Walk Quietly, Trevor Hall’s Chapter of the Forest was the first and foremost masterpiece that gave voice to my Heart in 2014.
Trevor Hall’s sincere Heart and energy poured into songs that were born from his own journey of re-centering immediately seeped into my own Heart, as my own. From the first time I sat with this album straight through, each track in perfect order brought another wave of tears to my eyes.
Many of you know what my family and I have been through the past two years, and the blind courage it took to continue on. There were many, many moments of feeling completely overwhelmed and utterly lost—lost in knowing what to do next, and lost in our faith. Yet every time Trevor’s Green Mountain State mantra chanted, “There’s a way, there’s a way, there’s a way, there’s a way,” I felt that energy-strand of Hope, and chose to hold it—had the strength to hold it, and continue on!
Then Green Mountain State melted into the divine promise of “You, too, will find your way. You, Child, will find your way” of Holy Country, followed immediately by the encouraging example of Kabir‘s “But let me tell you, Darling, I won’t weep—I’ll stay awake while the country sleeps!”
The sense of floating groundless in the unknown is a very powerful and necessary place to be—it removes all the crap and conditioning, and plops you back on level one, where you get to restructure your Self from scratch. It is the scariest and most humbling and empowering experience we go through—and everyone does go through it at least once, if not more. Trevor is clearly aware of this interconnection as well, as he opens Kabir with “Well everybody’s saying it’s unknown—Feel like a foreigner in my own home…” and then places The Promised Land after that, singing, “Sometimes I don’t feel at Home, like Exodus in my own soul.” To have your entire world upheaved in your own space leaves nothing left to cling to…
The Promised Land continues on to ask, “But can you love it unconditional, my friend?”
In the midst of this chaos, can you still find a way to love? To accept this present moment? To simply be?
When we can do this, we touch the Universe. We touch Divinity with our bare hearts, and are melted all over again.
“You say, ‘Open up and live—let that sweet Love come in,'” Trevor sings in O Haleakala, and begins to rise again, taking action with “I go forth into the Heart. Aloha Spirit through the dark,” and ends the track whispering, “Sit in the earth and hear wisdom… Do you believe in the dreaming? If not, your days will be dark… Thank you, Great Spirit. Thank you again…”
With this complete surrender to All That Is comes an even deeper sense of direct connection with the All, and the realization that we were never separate to begin with—even in the midst of the chaos! We are able to see that all has been well and perfectly in place, even if it was unable to be seen from our perspective in the moment.
“And as it tosses the Sun and Moon, I sit back and behold that, too,” the title track, Chapter of the Forest describes, finding that place of Trust in the Big Picture, and the ability to say, “All glory upon Her name…”
All has always been well. We were never endangered to begin with.
The Chapter of the Forest track is also special to me personally because of its call to return to the simple nature and example of Mother Earth. My shamanic roots were stirred and re-awakened every time the chorus began, “No more books, no more empty words, no more running away from Her. I now learn from the wind and rain, from the song of the lion’s mane…” Our connection to and relationship with our planet bears far more importance than we give energy and respect to. This must be maintained.
“What’s outside is within me—I see I see I see I see.” Great Mirror reminds one last time, as Trevor shouts, “Great Mirror, show me the way through!”
I happened across Hayley Sabella on NoiseTrade—which has quickly become my favorite place to find and discover new music and unknown artists—as our lives and chaos finally began to simmer down in late summer, early autumn, and I felt able to breathe and begin to assess where I now stood, and who I now was because of the experiences and accompanying emotions. I’d definitely discovered I had more inside me than I was ever aware of, and a strength and “grown-up” capability to accomplish… anything.
My soul did a backflip the instant it first heard Hayley’s crystal clear voice starting Backbone, the album’s first track, stating her recognized need to break all conditioning and forge ahead in an authentic trail of her own making—while simultaneously acknowledging that in this day and age, it’s harder and harder to do such a thing. “There’s a way to strike a stride in a way that’s all your own, but still I’m stepping in footsteps that aren’t for me,” she explains before pondering, “Do I have the courage to be disapproved of? Have I got the backbone to say what I mean?” then admits in powerful openness and honesty: “I don’t know…”
But the fear of the unknown is powerless to stop or discourage her, and she ends the track with a confident, “But I walk on and on and on—even if I’m limping, I’ll walk on.”
Such raw honesty, authenticity, and determination can’t help but send us to our foundation, to our roots, so that we may examine and reconstruct ourselves again from square one. When we still ourselves, with nothing but our self and the earth, we find there is nothing but ourselves, and that there has never been anything but ourselves affecting us—all hindrance and all growth is our own doing to ourselves. In February, Hayley discovers and voices, “I’m tired of being cynical, I am tired of seeing gray… I’m done with being critical of things I cannot change—I’m finished with this log in my eye.” Then, from the floor, searches for and calls to her True Self, her Creator: “Will you walk with me March through April and May? I’m tired of February… Walk with me ’til it’s warm enough to really live…”
She Ecclesiastically ends this song with reminding herself how short time really is, and that every moment counts in this brief existence: “Before the moon and stars have darkened, and the clouds come to rain again, and the guards are outside trembling, and the strongest backs are bent; before the windows have dimmed and the doors are shut tight and desire is filled and the songs are brought low; before the silver cord is snapped, and the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel is broken at the cistern; before the dust returns to earth as it was and your spirit returns to the God who gave it—remember your Creator.” Remember who you are!
Realizations that everything is simply what it is—without labels—are acknowledged in the title track, King Solomon. She explains that it is only our perceptions that paint things in certain lights with, “Well they say an honest man in difficult to find, especially in this troublesome day and age, but, Honey, I’m inclined to take a different mindset—Oh hear me when I say it’s always been this way. And King Solomon says there is nothing new under the sun…” The things around us have been there all along, and it is our perception or awareness of them that suddenly opens our eyes to see, like when you buy a new red car, and then begin noticing all the other red cars around, never realizing there were so many on the streets already. Hayley returns to her foundation reminder again in this song, singing, “It don’t matter who’s beside me, I still sleep with myself.”
It always comes down to ourselves.
We’re born alone, we die alone—we alone are responsible for our own lives.
There is no one else to shift the responsibility of our thoughts, words and actions to.
Then Hayley kicks it up another few notches, and hits a pure, intimate, mystical connection with the Divine for the rest of the album.
Her opening wailing and oohing of Child’s Play instantly clears everything away, and creates a sacred space to pour her (my) soul out to the Universe. “And my limbs are sore, but my Heart is quiet. Sleep will come easily tonight… There were no fireworks, there was no parade, but settlement can be so good for you. This is child’s play, child’s play, child’s play… When I look in truth, inside this Heart of mine; When I’m listening, I can hear your whisper on the wind: ‘Take it day by day…'” flows right into Up & Away Go, with “You swept in fast, and you swept out faster, and I cannot account for the state you left me in… I didn’t know your absence, until I knew your presence…” and on into Proud and Tight Fisted: “Revive me, revive me, Oh won’t you revive me? Cause I’m tired—it’s tiring pretending I know what I’m doing anymore… I’m a coward—it’s cowardly, this acting. These tactics are exhausting, and costing me more than I will pay.”
With fancy, energy-moving banjo-picking, she again acknowledges that she is the only one who can do anything to change or help or save herself: “I’ve been proud and tight-fisted, always shifting my weight around to have things the way I’d like them… I’ve been oddly particular, and isn’t it peculiar how one becomes rigid and lifeless? I’ve been trying to pry open my own white-knuckled fingers as they greedily grip on to nothing, moving too quickly, speaking over wise voices as they warn me to slow it down…”
The album begins to draw to a close with the simple, no-nonsense “Stop. See. This is just not what you were created for. Stop. Breathe. Take a breath for the first time as a child” of Speak To Me Loud. The shamanic connections of physical and nonphysical lace through for me once again with “Hey! Are you listening to the bristling of the trees as the breeze blows through?” We have never been, and can never be separated from… everything.
Hayley then invokes her Higher Self to come guide once more with “Speak to me so loud you drown out all of the noise… Speak to me so loud, cause if you don’t, someone else will… Speak to me so loud, cause if you don’t, I’ll hear someone else instead…” then seems to channel the answer straight through with the next track, Vanity: “Find your Home, come into your own. You got skinned knees, and red cheeks, but pay no mind—you’ll be fine. So make some trouble, make some noise, make some trouble, make your noise! Shout loud at the ocean! Declare who you are… say this is who I am, because that is who you are!”
The soul-soothing stringed instrumental of Striving After Wind serves as the intro to the final track, Brother, which I think may be my favorite on the whole album—a soft, acknowledging, encouraging, loving song reminding one last time that the power is our own, and has been all along—that no matter what arises, we are who we are, and can walk through with head held high.
“Oh, my Brother, battle-fighter, burdens are burning low… Oh, my Brother, secret-keeper, currents from deeper than we know… Oh, my Brother, tiptoe higher away from it all… Open your eyes, Broken-Hearted—healing will come from below, below your doubts, before the mouths of those who try to tell you that they know… Oh, my Brother, tiptoe higher away from it all… Tiptoe higher… Sing it low… Tiptoe higher… Sing it low…”
This is what makes me cry, every time, still, my body and Heart telling me that this is where I am healing, this is what I’m working on most.
This is the foundation I am rebuilding my Kingdom on.
The King Solomon album is a masterfully produced, perfectly arranged, work of art, straight through, and the emotion and depth with which Hayley Sabella performs each song leaves absolutely no doubt that she personally wrote and lived each one.
Not all music has to have such meaningful weight to it though—all sorts of music is needed at different times for different energy-moving purposes… or simply for fun!
Lorde’s Pure Heroine album is another that snuck up on me in 2014, and blew me away. Here is this 18 year old girl with a huge, amazing voice, mega-creative lyrics, and wisdom beyond her years—definitely a part of the new energy this planet is trying to shift to: an energy of authentic, self-empowered freedom. This music came to me as everything in our lives was smoothing out, and new balances, routines, and worldviews were being found and felt out by me and my family. The well-mixed vocals and simple fun-ness of it felt like a celebration and rejoicing to me, while still honoring the goals and principles we work toward.
From the declaration of independence of Tennis Court‘s “It’s a new art form showing people how little we care” to Royals‘ “We don’t care—we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams… We aren’t caught up in your love affair (materialism)” to the “I’m kinda over getting told to throw my hands up in the air—so there” of Team, Ms. Lorde provides a voice for all those with non-conformity in their blood, and sends the message of “Our dreams and visions are good enough, whether you say so or not, Society!” The running theme of being yourself no matter what everyone else is doing is present, even in this dancier, pop-ier brilliance. It’s also no wonder she was asked to write a theme song for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 movie—and nailed it with Yellow Flicker Beat. Katniss Everdeen was dedicated to her own authenticity as well, and it sparked a revolution without her ever intending to. But that song’s not on this album…
I think my particular favorite on this album is 400 Lux. It soothes my innards, and makes me smile, reminding me of the new period in our lives that began this year. It’s a beautiful “Let’s just BE” song: “We’re never done with killing time—can I kill it with you? We come around here all the time, got a lot to not do—can I kill it with you? You pick me up and take me Home again… And I like you… I love these roads where the houses don’t change (And I like you), where we can talk like there’s something to say (and I like you), I’m glad that we stopped kissing the tar on the highway… I’d like it if you stayed.”
Yet even Lorde closes her album with the reminder that we are all interconencted, whether some want to admit it or not. In A World Alone, she chants, “Let them talk—there’s no dancing in this world alone… Let them talk.”